Have you ever wanted to slow cook a good home barbecue? Maybe a juicy brisket or some nice pulled pork and ribs? How about a good old roast duck or some rotisserie chicken? Have your plans come to halt at your inability to cook either because neither do you have a smoker nor are you a professional when it comes to smoking and roasting some good juicy meat? Are you a novice when it comes to buying a smoker?
Unaware of what differentiates between a good smoker and an average smoker? If your answer is yes to all the above questions, then this is the place to be, as we speak about a few of the best smoker for beginners and also help you out with a list of factors you need to consider when you set out to buy a good smoker for yourself.
For starters, the first and foremost question you need to ask yourself, especially if you have absolutely no idea on how to buy a smoker, is –
Table of Contents
- Best Smokers for Beginners Reviews
- 1. Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker
- 2. Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker
- 3. Masterbuilt Bluetooth Digital Electric Smoker with Broiler
- 4. Masterbuilt Analog Electric Smoker with 3 Smoking Racks
- 5. Royal Gourmet 30-inch Barbeque Charcoal Grill and Offset Smoker
- 6. Weber 14-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker and Charcoal Smoker
- 7. Char-Broil Analog Electric Smoker
- 8. Cuisinart COS-118 Charcoal Smoker
- 9. Haka 16-inch Multi-Function Barbecue and Charcoal Smoker Grill
- 10. Char-Broil – Roaster and Grill
- 11. PIT BOSS Vertical LP Gas Smoker
- 12. Dyna-Glo Gas Smoker
- Best Smoker for Beginners – Buying Guide
- Factors to look for in the best smoker for beginners
- Factors you should consider when looking to buy a gas smoker is
- Factors you should consider when opting to buy a charcoal smoker are
- Factors you should consider when opting to buy a pellet smoker are
- Factors which you should consider when opting to buy an electric smoker are
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How to choose the best smoker for beginners?
If you are a beginner in the world of smoking meat, unaware of how to go about it, but the idea interests you nonetheless, then maybe knowing how to choose the best smoker for beginners is the first and most important step to this. While this isn’t rocket science, there are certain necessary factors to keep in mind, when you intend on buying a smoker, that might help to ease the smoking process and all provide you with some well-cooked meat for yourself and your family and friends.
Keeping this thought in mind, let us take a detailed look at the factors which one needs to consider when looking to buy the best smoker for beginners.
Best Smokers for Beginners Reviews
Given below is a list of twelve of the best smokers for beginners that are currently being sold in the market.
1. Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker
The Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker comes in 3 variants, depending on where you intend on keeping the smoker – apartment, an outdoor area in the open, or an outdoor barbecue area. Also, it offers 8 different functions, so read on!
- This 8-in-1 barbecue wood fire pellet grill offers the following functions – smoking, grilling, roasting, baking, braising, searing, charging, and also grill barbecuing – all in one grill
- It is fueled using 100% pellets made of hardwood that gives out both heat and smoke, helping to infuse the meat with a savory taste with a touch of wood-fire aroma
- It comes with a new PID control smart smoke technology that allows for an automated electric feed system that helps to maintain temperatures ranging between 180-degree Fahrenheit to 450-degree Fahrenheit.
- It has a Smart Digital Controller that helps to keep the temperature within +/- 10 degrees and helps to make the setting of the grill temperature as simple as the turning of a dial
- It provides an appropriate grilling area and also provides for a big hopper capacity of 15 pounds, which has the capacity of holding up to 10 burgers, 3 racks of ribs, or 3 whole chickens.
- It is ideal for house parties as well as tailgating – providing the main rack area of 324 sq and 128 sq of warm rack
- Extremely convenient for use in outdoor parties, weighing in at 84 pounds only!
2. Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker
The Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker comes in two variants, a standard one and a wide one. Similarly, you could either opt for the smoker or opt for a smoker with a cover, in case you are looking to keep it in the open. As for its features which make it one of the best offset smokers for beginners, read on.
- It comes in the color black
- It has a vertical design which provides it with a height that helps to achieve a greater level of rising heat which in turn provides an improved and better smoky flavor
- Its offset design helps to keep away direct heat away from food which is being smoked, thereby aiding in slow cooking
- It has a six-height adjustable cooking grate which accommodates different food sizes.
- It has a total of 784 sq inches of the smoking area, 1176 sq inches of cooking space, and provides 25 pounds in every grate
- It has a porcelain enamelled steel charcoal chamber which helps to keep briquettes stacked close together helping to improve a proper burn efficiency
- It has a charcoal and ash management system along with a charcoal chamber, sliding and grate as well as a removable steel ash pan. It has been designed in a way to manage large amounts of ash for hours at a stretch, thus providing for maintenance-free cooking
- Its smokestack features provide an adjustable flue leading to additional flavor and temperature control
- It comes with an in-built stainless steel thermometer that has a ‘smoke zone’ indicator to allow you to infuse a smokey flavor. Also, it’s easy to read gauge ensures that you get perfectly smoked food every time you decide to cook
- Its dimensions read – 20.2 x 34.52 x 47.03 in
3. Masterbuilt Bluetooth Digital Electric Smoker with Broiler
The Masterbuilt Bluetooth Digital Electric Smoker cum Broiler comes in two different sizes – 30 inches and 40 inches and brings the latest Bluetooth technology to use, in smoking your meats, thus making it one of the best electric smokers for beginners. For more features, read on.
- It makes use of the Bluetooth Smart Technology that helps you to control temperatures, monitor the meat which is being cooked, increase or decrease the lighting as well as power the smoker to on or off
- It comes with four chrome-coated smoking racks
- It has a patented side wood chip loading system which allows adding in wood chips without having to open the smoker door, thus preventing the loss of heat
- It has an in-built meat probe thermometer that helps to achieve perfect results every single time you decide to cook
- It provides for thermostat temperature controlling that ensures an even and all-round consistent smoking of the meat
- It has a grill and finishes element which is a patent-pending top element, that both grills and broils meat, helping to finish off the recipe in one go
- It has a capacity of – 6 whole chickens, 2 turkeys, 4 whole pig racks, or 4 pig shoulders
- It weighs around 54 pounds and its dimensions read – 19.88 x 20.66 x 33.46 inches
4. Masterbuilt Analog Electric Smoker with 3 Smoking Racks
The Masterbuilt Analog Electric Smoker which comes in the color black has three smoking racks and has a corded electric power source and it is made of cast iron. For more features, of this uber cool product from the house of Masterbuilt, read on.
- This electric smoker has an in-built temperature gauge
- It has an easy and variable temperature control system thanks to its analog dial
- It’s wood chips tray can easily slide out for smooth ash removal
- It comes with three chrome-coated smoking racks
- It has a 1500 Watt heating element which ensures consistent smoking of the meat throughout
- Its dimensions read – 20 x 21.69 x 40.15 inches
- It has a front access grease tray which catches the excess liquid and food drippings
- It has a capacity of – 3 whole chickens, 2 whole turkeys, 3 pork rack, or 3 pork shoulders
- It weighs a mere 57 pounds, which is why it can easily be moved around
- It runs on electricity
5. Royal Gourmet 30-inch Barbeque Charcoal Grill and Offset Smoker
The Royal Gourmet 30 inch Barbeque Charcoal Grill and Offset Smoker can be bought along with smoking chips or without them, depending on what you’d prefer. This sleek and stylish looking black smoker can easily be considered one of the best offset smoker for beginners thanks to its many features, which are as follows –
- The grill dimensions of this smoker are – 55.1 x 27.2 x 48.4 and it has a cooking area of 800 square inches.
- It has steel wiring grates (porcelain-coated) which provide up to 438 sq. inches and its chrome-plated warming rack provides around 179 sq. inches. Its offset smoker is around 183 sq. inches and it has no ignition system
- It has a charcoal and ashes pan, the removal of which allows user to dump off the waste easily
- It is a traditional charcoal grill that comes with an offset smoker, providing for a combination of dual style barbecuing.
- You can use the offset smoker as a small grill as well, by simply fuelling it with the help of lump charcoal or briquet, along with little wood chips to help enhance the flavor
- It comes along with a smokestack, a scald proof handle, a temperature gauge, a seamless connection as well as an access door on the side to be able to tend to the charcoal.
- It has a side air vent as well as sturdy wheels to aid in easy movement
- It comes with a new black coating which has the ability to hold temperatures which go up to 400 degrees and doesn’t peel off easily
6. Weber 14-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker and Charcoal Smoker
If you are on the lookout for a sleek and smooth mountain cooker which might well be one of the best charcoal smokers for beginners, then look no more, because this is it. This smoker has two other variants of 18 inches and 22 inches, which you can opt for, depending on your requirements. For more information, read on!
- The whole package includes – a smokey mountain cooker, a charcoal smoker, and a cover.
- Its dimensions read – 14.7 x 14.7 x 31.4 and it weighs a mere 24 pounds
- Its cooking grid dimensions are 13 ½ x 13 ½ and it has a main grilling area of 143 sq. inches. Its total grilling area is around 286 sq. inches
- It comes with a user manual which helps to set it up easily
- Its inside temperature can go up to 190-degree Fahrenheit at least
- It has rust-resistant metal legs and plated steel cooking grates
- It has an in-built lid thermometer
- It is small and compact, which is why it can be stored easily
7. Char-Broil Analog Electric Smoker
This Electric Smoker from the house of Char-Broil can be bought either with a cover or without one. Barring that, one of the main reasons as to why it is one of the best electric smokers for beginners is that it is extremely compact and easy to use. Some of its other key features are –
- It has around 544 sq. inches of cooking space which is evenly spread across three cooking grates which are chrome plated
- It comes with double-walled insulated construction that has dual exhaust ports.
- The cooking grate is really easy to clean, requiring warm soapy water only. After a quick wash, rinse and leave to dry
- It has a door-mounted temperature gauge as well as dual latches that helps to keep the door sealed and shut
- It has a front access water tray, a wood chip tray as well as a grease cup
- Its aluminized steel water pan ensures that the meat doesn’t dry out and the easily removable drip tray helps ease the cleaning process
- It has a 1200 Watt electric heating element on the analog electric smoker, ensuring longevity like no other
- Its dimensions read – 20.7 x 33.5 x 15
- It weighs around 49.50 pounds
- The entire unit comes with a one year warranty
8. Cuisinart COS-118 Charcoal Smoker
The 18-inch Charcoal Smoker from the house of Cuisinart is one of the best charcoal smokers for beginners, and we can prove why. For starters, there are two variants – 18-inches and 16-inches, so you can opt for one depending on where you intend on placing it. Other than that, some of its main features include –
- It comes with two 18-inch stainless steel racks which provide a cooking space of 510 square inches
- It comes with a porcelain enamelled steel water bowl
- Its dimensions read – 22 x 24 x 43
- Both it’s bottom and top vents provide a dual air vent system and it also has a latching base
- It has a vertically hinged door that allows for easy access to water and fuel. Also, the vertical design allows for even distribution of heat inside the cooking chamber
- It has a steel housing and also provides the user with additional control over both heating and smoke
- It is extremely easy to maintain as well as clean
- The package includes a 7 piece barbecue pit set, aluminum drip trays, smoker mats, and a sauce pot along with a basting brush set
- It weighs a mere 25 pounds only!
9. Haka 16-inch Multi-Function Barbecue and Charcoal Smoker Grill
The Haka 16-inch Multi-Function Barbecue and Charcoal Smoker Grill has three other variants as well, which are of 14-inches, 18-inches, and 20-inches. So, depending on the space you have and your requirement, you could choose to buy either. Some of its key features which make it one of the best charcoal smokers for beginners include –
- It comes in the color black
- It has a porcelain-enameled lid, bowl, and a center section that helps to retain heat and which ensures no rusting or peeling
- Its dimensions read – 18.5 x 16.93 x 34.25
- The 16-inch smoker dimension reads – 46.5 x 42.6 x 101 and its cooking grill along with the smoker dimensions read – 46.5 x 42.5 x 87
- It has 6 different features, which include grilling, smoking, baking, roasting, braising, and barbecuing all from the same smoker grill
- It has an integrated thermostat which ensures perfect cooking and also helps to monitor the internal temperature of the smoker
- Its barrel shape promotes a chimney effect which ensures quick heating
- It is extremely easy to use and assemble
- It has a two-layer design which makes it easy to dismantle and clean
- It has a latch lock system, which ensures additional stability
10. Char-Broil – Roaster and Grill
This Infrared Smoker from the house of Char-Broil can be bought with or without the cover, depending on where you intend on keeping it. Other than this, to know more about some of its interesting features, read on –
- This smoker allows you to roast and grill along with smoke, all in one!
- Its power source is propane
- As it makes use of TRU Infrared technology, food is always cooked evenly and ensures no flare-ups
- It has the ability to evenly cook different types of meat such as turkey, roast, ribs, and any other cut of meat inside the roasting basket
- It can hold up to 25 pounds for roasting and has a 180 square inch area for cooking food through grilling
- It has a smoker box which can be used for additional flavor
- Its temperature can be controlled from 9,000 to 18,000 BTUs
- It has a 1200 square inch roasting and smoking basket
- It is extremely easy to use
- It has a removable grease tray that allows for easy disposal of liquids and makes the whole process mess-free
- Its steel legs help to provide the unit with an additional stability
- It has carrying handles, which makes it extremely easy to carry around, as it weighs a mere 22.68 pounds
11. PIT BOSS Vertical LP Gas Smoker
The Vertical LP Gas Smoker from the house of PIT BOSS is unique for the simple fact that it is red in color. However, other than this, there are some other unique features in it, which is why it has found a place in our list of some of the best smoker for beginners. Read on to know more –
- It has a dual valve or dual burner system which can provide temperatures ranging between (as low as 100 degrees Fahrenheit to as high as 350-degree Fahrenheit). Both the burner valves are controlled using a single knob
- The dual burner system provides one 3,500 BTU stainless steel burner which is dedicated to wood chips and a 10,000 BTU burner which is for cabinet temperature.
- It comes with four porcelain-coated grid racks which are a total of 800 square inches
- Its dimensions read – 21.50 x 23.00 x 47.00 and it weighs around 52 pounds
- It is made of stainless steel
- It has a cooking area of 884 square inches
- It has stainless steel burners, that provides a total of 12,500 BTU
- It provides for external access to an oversized front load wood chip drawer as well as grease tray and external heat indicators
- It has a large viewing window that comes with a high-temperature door seal
- Its rear wheels help in providing an increased mobility
- You get the following things along with this smoker – 40 pounds of barbecue apple hardwood pellets, 40 pounds of hickory hardwood pellets, 40 pounds of competition hardwood pellets, a Pit Boss casting iron, Pit Boss tools, Bit Boss spices, and Pit Boss covers.
- It provides for a push-button piezo ignition, allowing for a quick and easy lighting process
12. Dyna-Glo Gas Smoker
Last but not the least, is the Dyna-Glo 36-inch Gas Smoker, which is considered one of the best smokers for beginners and pros alike, thanks to its amazing features such as – large capacity water bowl, large wood chip box, and more, which we will be stating below –
- It has a total of 15,000 BTUs along with dual cast iron burners that work on a push-button system thereby emitting a rapid pulse for quick lighting
- It comes with four adjustable cooking grates, allowing you to customize and accommodate different sizes of meat and vegetables
- It provides a massive cooking space of 1235 square inches
- It allows you to slow cook the meat, giving it an authentic smokehouse flavor
- It has a large water bowl capacity, where you can collect all the excess liquids from the smoked meat
- Its temperature gauge has a ‘smoke zone’ feature that helps to indicate ideal temperatures necessary for infusing a smokey flavor
- It is ideal for those looking for a large capacity smoker
- It has a large wood chip box that is made using a heavy gauge and is a porcelain enamelled steel that is ideal for hours of maintenance-free cooking
The thing about a good smoker is much fold. For starters, you need to keep in mind where you intend on keeping the smoker. A big smoker won’t sit well inside the house (preferably on your balcony) and having a small smoker in the open air might not serve its purpose on the whole. Similarly, you need to look into the power source as well, because depending on the amount you are willing to spend, the easy availability of different small parts, the essence of the smoked meat which is cooked, can you narrow down on specific choices.
In fact, we have given some very important and necessary questions you could ask yourself before you settle down on buying a particular smoker. Since it is a long term investment, you wouldn’t want to spend a buck load of money after making the purchase, which is why keeping yourself well informed will ensure that the first product you opt to buy is the best one for you!
All the twelve products given above are not only some of the best smokers currently available in the market, but customers speak quite fondly of how each of them has managed to serve its purpose, every time something is being cooked – whether it is being grilled, smoked, baked or barbecued. You could easily choose any of them and start on your culinary journey, as all of them are equally good and are some of the best smokers for beginners. So, good luck and we hope you can whip up some amazing dishes for yourself and everyone around you! Happy cooking!
Best Smoker for Beginners – Buying Guide
When you look at a good smoker that will not only be suitable for your home but will also provide you with the exact kind of results you seek, you must consider the following factors.
Factors to look for in the best smoker for beginners
- What is the type of smoker – This is the most important aspect of buying a smoker. There are mainly four types of smokers – gas smoker, charcoal smoker, pellet smoker, and electric smoker.
Now, what sets each apart from the other? Read on –
- Gas smoker –If the idea is to get an authentic and original barbecue flavor, from the comforts of your home, then a gas smoker is definitely the frontrunner. Besides the taste, meat which is smoked in a gas smoker is a definite and obvious healthy alternative to others. Having a good quality gas smoker will ensure that not only does the meat get smoked, but also gives out a strong aroma that is missing in all other methods of cooking. The flavor you experience in meat cooked from a gas smoker is authentic and is not from the heating source. This is also ideal for those who don’t have the time to attend to the meat which is being cooked constantly. You need not fiddle with coal or embers while the meat cooks or to maintain the cooking temperature.
Factors you should consider when looking to buy a gas smoker is
- Its reliability – If you are on the lookout for the best gas smoker, make sure that you opt to buy one from a reliable brand. You’ll find umpteen options to choose from, having different price ranges and different features, so make sure that you choose wisely, weighing in on all the pros and cons equally.
- It’s capacity – You must opt to buy a gas smoker that has adequate capacity. Depending on your requirements – whether you want it for personal use, wherein a small compact and portable unit will do the work just fine, or if you are buying to cook for many people, then opting for a smoker which has a large capacity to help you cook all the meat at once, might be a good choice.
- Its materials – It is necessary to keep in mind that the materials which are used to make the gas smoker, also impact the end product that you receive from the smoker. It would be best to opt for a smoker which is made of thick steel and is well insulated. A smoker made from thin metal usually tends to lose heat, and might not be the best buy especially during winters.
- Its price – If you are a beginner or even if you are a professional and intend on doing occasional cooking at home, then a mid-range smoker should do the trick for you. Try to avoid buying the cheapest model there is because it might not help to cook the meat well. Also, since this will be a long term investment, you might want to shell out a little extra to ensure that you get the best out of your purchase!
Some of the advantages of using a gas smoker are –it is portable so can be taken anywhere, extremely easy to use, and provides optimum temperatures.
Some of the disadvantages of using a gas smoker are – It requires fuel to run and the durability of the parts are a little questionable (if the gas smoker is cheap)
- Charcoal smoker – If you’re on the lookout for a good and sturdy grill that might provide you with an authentic burnt flavor that is typical of charcoal smoked food, then a charcoal smoker can be a good choice. A good and high-quality charcoal smoker that is available for buying in different shapes and sizes requires the flow of air and temperature to be done manually. However, there are certain modern charcoal smokers, who have managed to make this whole process a lot simpler. Also, if you end up buying a really good charcoal smoker, chances are that you won’t have to bother about soot, flyaway ash, and creosote.
Factors you should consider when opting to buy a charcoal smoker are
- Its price – The best way to look for a good charcoal smoker, is to first fix your budget. If you are looking for efficiency, and aren’t looking to spend more than $100 or so, then there are loads of options to choose from. If you are on the lookout for something more expensive and professional, there are options for that too. Just be sure of the amount you are willing to spend on the smoker.
- Its versatility –In case you have some problem with space, you could opt to buy a smoker which does the work of a grill too. Doing this will not only ensure the saving of space but will also allow you to get the benefit of getting two things done from one unit.
- It’s quality – If you are on the lookout for a good charcoal smoker, make sure that you don’t end up buying a subpar model merely because it might help you save a few bucks. Make sure that you do your research well because more often than not, you might come across some really decent models at low prices. This way, you get to spend less and yet end up getting a good quality smoker.
- Its usability – Always make sure that the smoker you are planning on buying will help serve its purpose, whether you intend on cooking meals for your family or your friends. As the whole process is quite a time-consuming thing, opt for a smoker that might help you cook a large chunk of meat at one go.
Some of the advantages of using a charcoal smoker are – it gives one of the best charcoal flavors, it is very easy to look after and maintain, it is really easy to clean and it is really easy to control its temperature. Some of the disadvantages of using a charcoal smoker are – cooking on a charcoal smoker is difficult during winters, it is a little difficult to maintain the oxygen levels and it is a little problematic to maintain the smoker.
- Pellet smoker – If you are on the lookout for a smoker that has the ability to control both the temperature and smoke production, as well as ensures that the meat remains juicy and filled with flavor, a pellet smoker is one of the best choices there is. It usually comes with a rod that is ignited when the smoker is switched off and starts by feeding the wood pellets. The whole process is quite automatic, which is why you wouldn’t have to spend unnecessary time with wood chips and charcoal or managing the temperature. Also, the pellets which are used in this smoker are completely made of natural pellets and thus don’t contain any form of fillers or additives, such as charcoal. Also, if you manage to get the best wood pellet grill for yourself, then you won’t require any additional wood chips or any other alternative flavoring agents, because the pellets themselves have the ability to impart a slightly smoky flavor to the meat.
Factors you should consider when opting to buy a pellet smoker are
- Its price – Since pellet smokers are considered one of the best options, the price is one of the main factors to keep in mind when considering this type of smoker. Some models are very highly-priced (in case of a budget isn’t a matter of concern for you) and there are budget-friendly options available as well.
- The availability of its pellets – Finding pellets can be a tough task, especially if you intend on doing it the whole year-round, which is why you should try and store pellets in bulk, for safety sake. You could also check out a few online stores that might help you to obtain pellets at a reasonable price.
- The space required – As is well known, the top of a wood pellet smoker can be quite large, which is why it is necessary to have the availability of a large space in your home. In case you plan on moving your smoker from one place to another quite frequently, you could choose to buy a smaller model.
- The quality of the smoker – It is of absolute importance to keep in mind that the model you choose is of a high-quality to save you from frequent costs of repair, which might be quite expensive. Thus, it would be better to opt for a smoker from a company of repute.
Some of the advantages of a pellet smoker are – it is extremely easy to use, it is highly efficient, and procuring the fuel is highly convenient.
Some of the disadvantages of a pellet smoker are – It is high maintenance, can be a little too noisy, and is also quite expensive in comparison to other alternatives.
- Electric smoker – An electric smoker as the name suggests, is powered using electricity and is a better alternative to old charcoal-fuelled smoked grill. In fact, this is a brilliant replacement for a charcoal smoker. When using an electric smoker, all you need to do is plug in the smoker and then select the right temperature. The smoker will work on its own to cook the meat at the temperature provided by you, minus any further interference from your end. The best part about an electric smoker is that any additional manual effort or attention is absolutely eliminated.
Factors which you should consider when opting to buy an electric smoker are
- It’s capacity – If you like having people over and cook big, opt for a grill with a higher capacity. If you like to cook meals mostly for your family, opt for a grill with a smaller capacity.
- Your budget – Choose the best grill but make sure that it doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket. Shortlist the features you are looking for, and then check the options at hand. Compare a few models before zeroing in on one.
- Its features – Most smokers come with quite a few features such as temperature control, timer settings, cooking mode, various sensors, and the like. Usually, the more features you have, the higher the price of the smoker will be. Thus, understand your purpose, and then choose a few options accordingly, and opt to buy from one of them.
Some of the advantages of using an electric smoker are – it is user friendly, extremely safe to use, and is quite cost-efficient.
Some of the disadvantages of using an electric smoker are – it doesn’t make use of the conventional smoking method and can be a little too complicated to use.
Other than the type of smoker, there are a few other general factors which one must keep in mind, which are as follows –
- Budget – Depending on your requirement, you could opt for a basic smoker grill within $100 or choose an all-in-one smoker and grill combo that can cost up to $10,000 and more. It basically depends on how much you are willing to spend. You can get mid-range smokers too, which are ideal for home chefs.
- Temperature controlling – This is one of the most important things to consider when buying a smoker grill is to see how easy or difficult it might be to control the temperature. Certain smokers come along with thermostats as well, but it isn’t something that you can get in pellet smokers.
- Seals, insulation, and the thickness of the metal –A good high-quality smoker grill is usually made using a thick metal, which is both properly insulated and also sealed at the correct places. Having a thick metal ensures an even distribution of heat throughout the chamber where the meat is cooked, radiating it back to the meat as well. This works towards the reduction of fluctuations with temperature. A cheap barbecue grill is usually made using thin metal, thus making it easy for heat to escape and leading to alterations of temperature.
- Durability, workmanship, and materials –Remember to check whether the smoker has any sharp edges, what is the quality of welding done, whether it comes with sturdy wheels and stable legs, whether it has latches or wheels, whether the paintwork is both rust and waterproof, whether the moving parts are good and strong and the like. Also, it is necessary to keep in mind that though stainless steel smokers might seem like a good choice because they look good, the results might prove to say otherwise. Ensure that you can answer all the above-mentioned questions when buying a smoker.
- Thermometer – Always ensure that when you are buying a smoker, you buy a good quality thermometer along with it, so that it can be used at the level of the grate. Usually, most smokers come with thermometers of their own, most are usually unreliable and cheap, which is why it may be a good idea to buy a thermometer of your own, which is both reliable and good for maintaining preferred temperature.
- The range of the temperature –Make sure that you check the temperature range of the smoker you are considering. Whether it can reach a temperature of about 320-degree Fahrenheit for smoking turkey or if it has the ability to reach around 500-degree Fahrenheit on direct heating, allowing for the searing of a steak and the like. Always ensure that the smoker you are about to choose helps to keep up with your smoking requirements.
- Even distribution of heat –It is often noticed that the difference in temperatures inside the smoker can be quite big, especially in the event of a cheap barbecue grill set, wherein temperature differences as large as 50 degrees to 75 degrees between two ends can be noticed. Thus, make sure to check this before buying a particular smoker.
- Whether it has dampers – In case you plan to opt for a charcoal smoker wood smoker, keep in mind that the heat supply in either of these two types is usually supplied by cutting off the oxygen supply, which is why your smoker must have a couple of dampers – one on the chimney and another placed on the firebox. Make sure that the dampers are both easy to use and reach.
- Worksurface and storage unit – Most top quality smokers have both in-built tables and also proper work surfaces. These areas can be used for storing cutting boards, keeping tools, storing mitts, sauces, and the like. The larger the work surface, the better it is to store things. There are certain smokers which come with bins as well as storage cabinets.
- Warranty and support –When you chose a particular smoker, make sure that you are aware of the reputation of the dealer from whom you are buying, whether there is a guarantee on the product, and if there is, what sort of guarantee it is, how good is the support and how to get in touch with them – via mail or call, whether the user manual is helpful enough and if not if there is someone who might come and show you the basics, whether spare parts are easily available in the market, whether there will be spare parts available after a gap of five years too – these are some of the absolute basic queries you should have answers to.
- Safety – Always opt for a barbecue smoker that is safe around children and pets. Check to see whether it comes with locks and wheels, to be easily shifted from one place to another, whether the electrical parts will remain safe during snow and rain and whether the handles are heat resistant. Most cheap smokers come with wooden handles that aren’t sturdy enough which is why they don’t really last long enough. Having a smoker with coiled handles and made of stainless steel is usually the best option to opt for. Not only will they be durable, but will also disperse heat more quickly compared to others.
- Easy access – Always opt for a charcoal or wood smoker which provides easy access to the firebox to ensure that fuel can be added effortlessly. Easy access to cooked food is also an absolute necessity since that is the most important reason for buying a smoker in the first place. Most cabinet smokers usually have front side loads making them easier to access in comparison to the bullet type smokers which load from the sides.
- Space it will be taking up – This is very important as well, as the smoker needs to be kept in a place where there is enough flowing air which ensures that nothing around is susceptible to fire.
- Spacious enough to hold large chunks of meat –If you intend on smoking whole turkeys, make sure that the smoker comes with adequate space for it. The space that lies between the rack with the top of the smoker should at least have a gap of 12 inches.
- Grill – Ensure that if your smoker comes with a grill or the bullet smoker which you are opting for can easily be transformed to a grill by simply removing the water pans and a few other additional parts. Also, remember to check if the grill in the smoker has a heat controller.
- Wheels – Having a sturdy set of wheels on your smoker will allow you to shift it from place to place, easily.
- Water and drip pan –Some smoker grills come with a pan right above the heating source. This pan can be filled using beer, water, wine, herbs, and the like, although it is mostly filled with water as that helps to reduce fluctuation in the internal temperature of the smoker and helps to increase the humidity, ensuring that the meat stays moist while being cooked. Similarly, there are different fluids such as fat that drips from the meat when it is being smoked. Often, you could simply let this liquid be, allowing it to fall into the fire, or you could collect it in the drip pan (which is usually available in high-quality smokers), where the liquid is usually collected. You could use this liquid to either make some sauce or simply dispose of it.
- Easy cleaning process –Although cleaning of the exterior of the smoker may be optional, the interior is necessary. The reason behind this is when you smoke a piece of meat, fats, seasoning, and juices from the meet fall and splatter all around. These splatters are usually breeding grounds for bacteria. Other than this, when you keep burning rancid grease along with your meat, it tends to make the meat unpalatable. Thus, even though high temperatures tend to kill germs and bacteria present on the meat, cleaning the interiors of the smoker is an absolute must.
Keep in mind that of all the different smokers mentioned above, each of them has its own pros and cons, which will come down to the purpose of buying the smoker, as each of them serves entirely different requirements, other than the obvious smoking of meat.
Each of the different smokers has their own factors which you must look into, weighing into their advantages and disadvantages, looking at your budget, cooking capacity of the smoker as well as other additional features, and then make a well-informed choice. Barring the obvious factors that have been stated above, we would like to point out a couple of more factors you can keep in mind if you want the absolute best for yourself, so please bear with us a little!
- What purpose will your smoker serve?
When you look to buy a smoker, irrespective of the type, the first question you should ask yourself is, what purpose are you looking to solve with it. Whether it is for your backyard or kitchen, whether you intend on using it frequently or occasionally, whether it is for a large group of people or just for your family – make sure you answer all these questions before you settle down to look at a few units.
- What should be the ideal size of the smoker grill?
It would be best to stay true to your needs and requirements. It isn’t necessary to spend big on a commercial smoker, wherein the only people that will benefit from it are you and your family. Nonetheless, if you are a true barbecue enthusiast and intend on having umpteen backyard barbecue parties with your friends and family, then it might make sense to opt for a larger pit.
Thus, keeping all these factors in mind will not only help in easing out the whole process of buying a smoker for yourself but will also help you to choose the best smoker for beginners.
Also, you must keep in mind that, buying a smoker can’t be a decision that you make all of a sudden. It requires prior planning, understanding of how to use the smoker, understanding why you intend on buying it, whether you will be a frequent user or occasional user, whether you will be cooking only for yourself and your family or you will be having friends over, whether you are willing to spend big or are on a budget, whether you have adequate space to keep a large smoker or you would prefer opting for a smaller and more compact smoker, whether you would want to opt for a portable smoker or you intend on keeping it fixed at one spot and the like.
It is only when you can answer all these questions to your satisfaction do you know that you are now ready to check out some much-needed units, and seal the deal with one – based on the answers you have received for yourself. With this information in mind, let us now take a look at some of the best smokers that are currently available in the market, and what sets each of them apart from the rest. Read on.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What is the best smoker for home use?
Ans. If you ask us, one of the best smoker for home use, as well as overall, especially if you intend on keeping it in some open space, you could opt for the Dyna-Glo Wide Body Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker. It’s a little big in size but has every single feature you could ask for and would be an ideal buy for a beginner.
2. What is the easiest thing to smoke?
Ans. Some of the meats which are easiest to cook and would be a good stepping stone for a beginner would be – Chuck roast, tri-tip, ribs or brisket (beef), poultry (chicken, duck, or turkey), lamb shoulder or lamb leg, or even seafood such as salmon.
3. What is the best inexpensive smoker?
Ans. If you are on the lookout for a smoker which might cost you less than $100, then you could opt for either of the following – Masterbuilt Charcoal Bullet Smoker, Masterbuilt Electric Bullet Smoker, Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker, and Pit Barrel Cooker Co. Classic Pit Barrel Smoker.
4. Are smokers easy to use?
Ans. Some specific types of smokers such as pellet grill smokers, gravity-fed, portable smokers, and electric smokers tend to provide the easiest method of smoking food. The reason it is so is that they have direct temperature control, and that is also why they can replenish wood externally.
5. What should I look for in a smoker?
Ans. Typically, a good smoker should be one that allows you to add charcoal, water, and wood really easily. Secondly, opt for one that comes with coiled handles that are made using stainless steel. The reason behind this is that, not only are they extremely durable but also allow easy dispersion of heat. Other than these factors, make sure that it fits where you intend on placing it, is cost-effective, and will be able to provide you with the desired results, that’s it.
Check out some other picks from Amazon also:
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- EASY ASSEMBLY: Assembles in 30 minutes or less!
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